Affairs should be as old as the relationship itself. But they seem to be more scandalous when it is those holding high political office who are caught up in them.
Today it is France’s Francois Hollande for cheating on the First girlfriend of France, Valerie Trierweiler, with an actress.
Not so long ago, or should we say several times over the last few years, it was Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister and leader of the country’s biggest opposition party and of course the most infamous should be Bill Clinton and his liaison with Monica Lewinsky.
Irrespective of the continent he is from, whether first or third world, a political leader’s scandal details and love life will always become big news. Maybe it is because as holders of high public office, they are held in high esteem, so much that when they do something or are alleged to have done something even remotely human, normal or ordinary, we are shocked to the bone.
We are massively curious at how these people, who we see as more than mere mortals, could have done something so blasé, sinking to such low levels.
Maybe we forget that beneath the veneer of power and making important national decisions, they are people like us, with urges, needs, break-ups, make-ups and of course, feelings.
It is easy to forget that while they all fall under the same bracket of unfortunate leaders whose personal lives have grabbed more attention than their political activities, each bear their own unique traits, and each shows what kind of man the political leader is. Think about it, or just read about three men whose reputation have been dented by women.
Francois, the bad boy
I suppose we have this scandal to thank for letting more people realise the fact that Francois Hollande is the president of France and not Holland. I bet none of his foreign policies or foreign state visits could have achieved that.
We could also say there is a lesson for all leaders and aspiring leaders - being discreet when you are a senior citizen in a country cannot be that easy.
You see the signature of a bad boy throughout this scandal - from carefully planning how to get away with it and actually getting away with it for so many months. You also see therein an attempt to disguise the embarrassment for a while [that can’t have been easy], and of course his conduct after he was, shall we say, busted! He had a curt response to the press who asked about his deliberate effort to continue with his duties, and then his refusal to outwardly show he is embarrassed or affected.
Hollande manages to live with women for many years without actually marrying them and handles this like an old hand, which, come to think of it, he is.
His first partner and mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, accused him of having an affair with Trierweiler before they separated.
You can call it karma on Trieweiler’s part or that Hollande is definitely the type of man women love to hate!
Morgan, the drama king
Tsvangirai should change his first name from Morgan to the standard soap opera male star name Alejandro (pronounced Alehandro). His love life is so dramatic that it is reminiscent of a soap opera.
A widower, for purposes of carrying the soap opera theme, let’s say he was heartbroken or hurting, after losing his wife of 31 years. He is lonely too and has to wade back into the dating pool where he quickly finds himself out of death. He has several misses before making a hit. The woman he chooses to walk down the aisle is Elizabeth Macheka. Like any good telenovela, the spurned woman must come back to haunt his chosen bride.
In this case, they are making the plot even more interesting.
Only for Tsvangirai, this is real life and while soap stars have the fortune of reverting to their real, hopefully less dramatic lives after acting, he does not. The reality for him is an ex, a South African woman who refused to take his break-up with her via a text message and going on to marry another woman lying down, who is now writing a tell-all book.
If only this drama ended there, we could say one scorned woman is probably being egged on by a political enemy who wants to sully his name. But already his love life is more colourful and even memorable than his active role in Zimbabwean politics. Today he and his wife of two years, Elizabeth Macheka, are breaking up, tomorrow they are making up, then it was her fault, then it was his fault, someone call Mexico, Les Politician Confused should be a hit!
Bill, the clueless one
There is always that one boy who wants to join in on the big boy games, only to realise too late that maybe he shouldn’t. United States of America’s 42nd president, Bill Clinton, may have been that child throughout a scandal that saw him impeached.
Obviously the promise of secret escapades with a 21-year-old was titillating - it can be for any middle-aged man. But things can also go so bad so fast when the said 21-year-old, who the middle-aged man has grossly underestimated, turns out to have more foresight than foreseen.
Clinton’s scandal unfolded like it does for first time offenders; the fervent denials first, then the head-hanging shame when the evidence is irrefutable. Out went the sterling reputation, and in came the new way the world was going to remember Bill Clinton.